For one last time in the 2014 season, Virginia baseball fans gathered at Davenport Field on Thursday to support the Cavaliers. This time, they weren't there for a game, but to welcome back the 'Hoos from the College World Series.
The celebration was a reminder of the season as a whole, one that included a 53-16 record and a trip to the CWS finals for the first time in program history. For Brian O'Connor and his players, it helped put the season in perspective after the Cavaliers lost 3-2 to Vanderbilt in the final game on Wednesday.
"Twenty-four hours removed from losing a national championship game by one run, I can tell you there's still a lot of heartache," O'Connor said Thursday. "The celebration tonight was great, and it was great that so many fans showed up to support our team, but this ones going to hurt for a while."
Junior third baseman Kenny Towns says one day later, he is "just kind of trying to take the season in as a success. Obviously pretty upset from the loss yesterday, but trying not to take away our accomplishments from this year."
Before the homecoming celebration, O'Connor called his players together for the final team meeting of the season.
"He just basically told us to be proud of our season and not hang our heads, and just kind of enjoy what's left here and appreciate the fans and how they helped build this program to what it is," said senior pitcher Artie Lewicki.
"I did share with them that even though I can't take away the pain and the frustration that we didn't win it all, that there's so many things they need to be proud of," O'Connor said. "There's so many takeaways from the experience this year and especially the last four weeks."